The powerful coming-out story of an ultra-Orthodox child who became a woman and a voice for gender freedom
Abby Chava Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, profoundly isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of an eighteenth-century Eastern European enclave, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a rabbinical dynastic family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews. But Stein felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. Without access to TV or the internet and never taught English, she suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood into mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family and her way of life.